Around the time that experimental indie crew Animal Collective released their super-successful 2009 album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, their steady evolution from blog sensation to mainstream recognition dovetailed with an increased flirtation with classic pop sensibilities. They pulled off an effortless hybrid of Beach Boys harmonies and noisy glitch pop—the sort of musical marriage that’s impossible to replicate. So it’s both fitting and a bit disappointing that the Brooklyn-based quartet have followed that album by returning to their tripped-out old ways.
Musically speaking, Centipede Hz contains some of the most exciting and infectious sounds the band has put to tape (the swirling rhythms of “Wide Eyes” and the piled-on sound effects of “Rosie Oh”). Indeed, Centipede Hz opens with a pair of ecstatic and dynamic tunes—“Moonjock” and “Today’s Supernatural”—but those tracks make for an early peak that the album fails to sustain, especially after a few listens. It’s bogged down in lyrically vapid nonsense (“Pulleys”) or far less interesting attempts at the commonplace honesty they perfected on Merriweather’s “Summertime Clothes.”
Now that the quirkiness of Animal Collective’s sound is less of a shock to the eardrums, it seems like the band’s biggest challenge will be in making something that’s genuinely extraordinary. That said, being stuck making just-okay Animal Collective albums isn’t necessarily a bad gig.
Playlist picks: “Moonjock,” “Today’s Supernatural”